I mentioned yesterday and the day before that I was going to help my kids make a graham cracker house this year before Christmas. It’s finally done and I thought I would share how we did it.
assorted candies such as gum, spice drops, Spree, whatever you want to put on it
Here’s the recipe for the royal icing:
1 egg white
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp lemon extract (or vanilla extract, but lemon leaves the mix whiter)
Beat egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and lemon extract until completely blended.
I made one batch of this to assemble the house the first day, and a double batch the next for attaching the candy. How much you need depends on how extensive you let the decorating get.
I covered two cookie sheets with wax paper. Only needed one for building the house, but for making the walls I needed two.
Next I took one graham cracker and cut it into triangles using a butcher knife. One nice firm hit with the heel of my hand to break the crackers in a fairly straight line. Probably any knife long enough with an uncurved blade will do for the job.
Because I knew the kids would want a big house, I used the icing to connect two crackers for each side, and used the triangles to make points to support the roof. I was pretty heavy handed with the icing. I forgot to borrow my mother’s cake decorating supplies to make this easier and neater. But I figured the excess would help to strengthen the crackers once it dried.
A cracker and a half made each of the roof panels. I measured along the triangles to figure that out.
I kept the royal icing in the fridge, covered lightly with a damp paper towel while these dried.
Once they were dry enough, I assembled the house. Without the right tools this was pretty difficult. I used a plastic baggie with a corner cut off to direct the icing as best I could. Not as good as regular cake decorating tips would do, but it helped to get the job done. (Note to self: Next time don’t forget to borrow the cake decorating tools!)
One roof segment cracked when I was trying to attach it, and by that point I had too little icing to do more than fix it. Not enough to save for reattaching it. So I fixed it and decided to reattach it today.
All that was yesterday. I wanted the icing very strong before I let the kids anywhere near anything.
This morning I reattached the roof, then coated it with frosting and shingled it with Necco wafers. This was the point at which I wondered if it would have been smarter to add them yesterday, before assembly. I had to hold them in place for several minutes to keep all the shingles from sliding down, off the roof.
This did later generate the thought that maybe decorating the sides in general would be easier to do as they lay flat on the wax paper. Only thing I don’t know is how that would impact the assembly of the house. Might have too many things in the way then.
Next I covered the surrounding wax paper with the royal icing and let the kids go at it. I did the decorating of the house itself, since the kids didn’t have the patience to hold the candies in one place long enough to do anything on the walls. But they did have a lot of fun placing candies and asking if they could eat another piece yet.
The pine tree and snowman made from spice drops were probably the most difficult. Dratted things took incredibly long to dry. I had to keep a hand on them for at least 15-20 minutes. The snowman was particularly stubborn.
Then I decided to add a little chocolate. I had decided early on that that would be the easiest way to give the snowman a face. So I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave, grabbed a toothpick and went to work. Then I added more chocolate to the house just because I could, and it was chocolate. Who needs more reason than that?
With everything finished, there was still more icing available. I decided that the last bits could be poured over the roof to make something of a snow effect. It was that or throw it out, and that just seemed like more fun.
All in all, I think it turned out rather well:
[tags]christmas recipes,graham cracker house,candy[/tags]
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